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  1. #1

    Default East Coast Explorer

    I am planning a road trip and don't really know where to start, as I am new to all of this. I want to visit colleges in Burlington, Vermont and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, but want to make it into a road trip. My starting point is Chicago; I want to go up to Vermont, shoot down to North Carolina, then back to Chicago. I am planning this for my spring break, I will have 10 days. I want to rent a car for the trip. I am in need of travel advice, anything comments will be helpful.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Very Basically…

    Welcome Aboard the RoadTrip America Forums!

    Well, let’s get the bad news out of the way. If you are of college age and looking to rent a car for this trip, you need to be prepared to pay the ‘underage driver’ penalty of $25/day on top of whatever else the rental company quotes you for the car. That’s a pretty substantial $250 hit. If you are 25 or older, you can ignore that, but do be prepared otherwise.

    Another bit of mildly bad news is that you’re going to need at least 5 days of serious driving to complete your loop, so assuming you want to spend some time on the campuses of UVT, UNC and perhaps some others, that doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for just relaxed sight seeing.

    Otherwise, I suggest that you just start out using a good atlas or one of the many on-line mapping routines to play with various routes and see what appeals to you. The one thing I would note is that the route any software package is going to recommend between Burlington and Chapel Hill is I-95 through New York, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond. Instead, I strongly suggest crossing Lake Champlain (by ferry) and taking I-87 to Albany, I-88 to Binghamton, I-81 into western Virginia, and then use (roughly) US-29/NC-86 down to the Chapel Hill area.


  3. #3

    Default Where in NC?

    Hello Tori,

    You've heard from The Master in terms of perusing an Atlas and looking a mapping software, and he provided sage advice on avoidance of the I-95 quagmire.

    A bit more specific routing advice is in order, depending on where in NC you're headed, but if you are indeed headed for Chapel Hill:

    I'd favor taking US 17 south from Winchester, in northernmost VA. US 17 will pass through Warrenton, cross over US 29, connect to I-95 near Fredericksburg, just below the worst of the northern VA congestion in the DC area. From there, go straight through Richmond (NOT the I-295 bypass--your GPS is an uninformed liar) to Petersburg, thence I-85 to Durham, NC, where the US 15-501 exit will take you directly to Chapel Hill.

    If you're looking at a campus closer to or east of I-95, DO take the I-295 loop around Richmond and remain on I-95 into NC.

    If it's the Greensboro area you're headed for, stay on I-81 to Roanoke, VA, thence US 220 south to Greensboro.

    If your destination is Winston-Salem or Charlotte, stay on I-81 to Wytheville, VA, thence I-77 south, branching off to the southeast on I-73/74 to Winston, or stay on I-77 to Charlotte.

    Lastly, if it's Asheville you're headed to, stay on I-81 into upper east Tennessee, thence I-40 east over the mountains into Asheville (that segment of I-40 east actually runs almost due south).

    To return to Chicago, most software will tell you to run I-77 to Charleston, WV, thence through Lexington, KY to Cincy, Indy, and on to Chicago. The farther west your NC departure point is, the more likely I-40 west to Knoxville, TN and I-75 north is a better route. The I-77 route through WV is fairly rolly-polly and has a poor road surface, so I like to avoid it.

    Safe travels and welcome to North Carolina!


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    To add to what Buck said, if you are under 21 you will not be able to rent a car at all.

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